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<nettime> Privacy and Property in Free Networks
Saul Albert on Fri, 6 Dec 2002 20:29:52 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Privacy and Property in Free Networks

Dear Nettimers,

I know there's been some good recent writing on nettime about Free Networks
recently, notably by Armin Medosch. This text is an attempt to ground some
of those ideas about Free Networks alongside discussions of Free Software,
privacy and intellectual property that have been continuous threads on
Nettime. The text is released to coincide with the public consultation of
the Pico Peering Agreement (mentioned towards the end of this text), an
attempt at a kind of Network GPL for Free Networks. (http://picopeer.net). I
hope this text provides some useful context for that process.

// 4000 ish words.



Privacy and Property in Free Networks

Introduction: From property to intellectual property.

In discussions about Free Software and wireless networks, the word 'privacy'
is often left as an unanalysed ideal. It is cited as the purpose for, but
then quickly sidelined by the technical details of IT security: the method
of enforcing data privacy and the ownership of digital information. In
concentrating on these details, the reasons for that enforcement are often

"Every Man has a Property in his own Person. This no Body has any Right to
but himself. The Labour of his Body, and the Work of his Hands, we may say,
are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the state that Nature
hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his Labour with, and joyned to
it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his Property".[1] - John
Locke, Second Treatise of Government. 1690.

Locke's concept of ownership, as an extension of the right to one's own body
and to the wealth created through the 'mixing' of labour with land, is often
cited as the basis for our understanding of property. With regard to
Intellectual property, the same rules apply: ownership of intellectual
property is based on the right to the fruits of one's mental labour.

So to use a limited definition, privacy can be seen as the extent to which a
person owns, and has control over their information. It is important to note
that this refers to both indexical *information about* them (as we usually
think of privacy, for example, health records, fingerprints or credit card
bills), but also to information intentionally *produced by them* such as
speech, software, text or other intellectual property.

Defining privacy in terms of legal questions of property, bodily security
and autonomy is simplistic, but useful for showing how Free Networks and
other strategies of distributed information ownership such as Free Software
are different fronts of the same battle for individual, and collective

>From the 'inviolate personality' to the 'data body'.

"The principle which protects personal writings and all other personal
productions, not against theft and physical appropriation, but against
publication in any form, is in reality not the principle of private
property, but that of an inviolate personality."[2] - Warren and Brandeis,
The Right to Privacy,1890.

Warren and Brandeis' text on the legal implications of new media ( the "evil
of invasion of privacy by the newspapers"[3]) is often seen as the first
attempt to provide legislative protection for information about a private
individual. They extend the definition of intellectual property to encompass
the personality of the owner.

"The data is the original; I am the counterfeit".[4] - Critical Art
Ensemble, Tactical Media, 1997.

A century later the Critical Art Ensemble[5] write about the "data body".
Like Warren and Brandeis, they are referring to information about a person,
but in their critique of an information-centric society, the official body
of information representing a person becomes their authoritative
replacement, and is entirely alienated from that person's "organic
subjectivity".[6] The data body is an abject, dystopian reflection of Warren
and Brandeis' 'inviolate personality'.

Re-appropriating the 'Information Commons'.

In 'Silent Theft: the private plunder of our common wealth'[7] , David
Bollier proposes the idea of an 'information commons' as a common wealth of
intellectual property, culture and communication. He sketches out an
'Internet commons' based on public funding (of military and academia) and on
the 'gift cultures'[8] of technologists and the Free Software movement. He
then describes how the corporate subversion of open communication protocols
and technical standards, heavy handed abuse of intellectual property law,
and the privatisation of Internet governance is enclosing this commons.

In his analysis of the human effects of this enclosure, Bollier stops short
of transposing an unfashionable Marxist analysis of the creation of the
conditions for wage labour through land enclosure onto a contemporary
context of 'information wage labour'.[9]

The CAE, however, are less restrained in their terminology. One of the
alienated subjects of Tactical Media, the 'cyborg as bureaucrat' in the
'virtual sweat shop', is the figure of the information wage slave, an
'organic subjectivity' alienated from its 'data body'.

Tactical Media was presented to an audience of net artists, activists,
technologists and theorists at The Next Five Minutes conference in Amsterdam
in 1997. It was intended to de-bunk a late '90s revival of Situationist
tactics and notions of Spectacle, and the idea that technology and the
Internet could be useful tools of 'anti-authoritarian activity'. However,
the CAE do make two constructive proposals.

"[the appropriation of] vital information (such as research and development
databases), or the conduits of information transfer themselves". [10]

Although the CAE are not specific about these strategies, [11] the practices
of Free Software production, and Free Networks can be presented in these
terms, as potential strategies of resistance, methods of reclaiming an
'information commons'.

Free Software as resistance,

The politics of Free Software, its copyright devices such as the GPL,
distributed ownership of information property, gift cultures, and the spread
of those ideas to other areas of cultural production have already been too
well documented on nettime to allow repetition. However, in order to
continue without being obscure, an explanation of the basics of, and the
threats to Free Software is available here:

Since Free Software has become widely known (under the more
venture-capitalist-friendly term; 'Open Source') there have been substantial
attempts to legislate or bully it out of existence. Contentious encryption,
or DVD playing software projects have been sued off the Internet, and
successful 'peer-to-peer' networks are being sidelined, shut down or
sabotaged by corporate players. A host of acronym-toting legal entities such
as the SSSCA, UCITA, the DCMA and DRM[12] are currently threatening the
potential of Free Software as a means of keeping information, and software
in the public domain.

"My thesis is that bandwidth is going to be virtually free in the next era
in the same way that transistors are in this era".[14] - George Gilder,

In this interview with George Gilder (one of the most prolific
techno-utopians of the 'Wired' crowd) by Kevin Kelly
(a social Darwinian of the same school) the word "bandwidth" is used in its
non-technical sense to mean the amount
of data that can be carried by a medium (such as copper or fibre cable) at
any one time.

If it is possible to string meaning together from his endless string of buzz
words, what Gilder is actually talking about is the price of connecting to
the Internet. Gilder was right about one thing. Since 1993, the price of
connecting to the Internet has come down (though it is still far from
gratis), but the utopia he predicts as a result of cheap Internet access has
conspicuously failed to appear.

The mistake in his thinking centres around his limited use of the word
'free'. The copper and fibre of the Internet have always been owned by
corporate, military or institutional players. Richard Stallman's famous
'free as in beer, or free as in speech' distinction between the 'liberty'
and 'gratis' meanings of the word 'free' was not yet a popular meme, and in
those Internet-hype days, worrying about the 'liberty' of the network was
not really on the agenda.

Opportunistic attempts to force unworkably restrictive, and potentially
draconian communications legislation through parliament by the UK government
in the last year is just one example of how the rules that govern
transactions in that network are subject to changes in the political

How this battle for Free Internet use concludes is yet to be seen, several
projects such as the FreeNet peer-to-peer software do offer one possible
software solution to protecting the freedom of the network and its
information products. However the second proposal of the CAE, to
"appropriate the condiuts of information transfer themselves" offers a very
appealing route around these legal obstacles, taking the battle for
intellectual property off the Internet and, quite literally, into the

Wireless Free Networks

- "Trip the loop, make your switch, consume the net". - Consume.net - [13]

Trip the loop

Due to the restrictive wording of the 1949 UK Wireless Telegraphy Act[17]
and (in the wake of the 3G auction scandal) the lack of political will to
amend it, the 2.4 Ghz. FM radio band was prohibited from commercial use, but
legal for private individuals.[18] Until recently, It was not considered
useful enough for long-range or complex communications networks, and has
been used for cordless telephones, remote controls, and more recently, for
small scale networking of computers.

Since the large scale commercial production of wireless networking
components in 1996, business and individuals have been using 2.4Ghz to share
Internet connections and to allow movement around an office with laptops.

"Consume is a collaborative strategy for the self provision of a broadband
telecommunications infrastructure". - www.consume.net, 1999. In 1996-1997,
groups of hobbyists, technologists and artists realised that if their
computers could be connected to an interlocking mesh of wireless network
coverage, a local, non-metered, non-commercial computer network could be
created from cheap and readily available components.

Using home-made antennas, a wireless link could be stretched up to 4 km, and
city rooftops and tower blocks provided perfect locations for antennae. The
home computer had been powerful enough to run simple web, mail and other
communications services since the early 90's. It became clear that if enough
individuals would interconnect their computers and become "nodes" in a
network, a free (in both senses of the word), local communications
infrastructure could be possible.

Today there are hundreds of Free Network groups in Europe, America, Asia and
Australia.[19] with very diverse agendas, methodologies and organisational
strategies. This text mostly uses local research into two London-based free
networks: Consume[20] and Free2Air[21].

Make your switch

The onus on participants in a wireless Free Network is to build, maintain
and understand their own infrastructure. There is no single organising body
or a planned distribution of computer and radio networking hardware, except
by independent agreement.[22] However, there is an extremely strong culture
of mutual support, and technical assistance.

Jesse Walker's account of the early days of ham radio reveal strong
similarities in the way sharing of information and production of
infrastructure was organised. He describes the ham radio culture as
self-organising through hobbyist clubs for mutual education and the
presentation of independent research.

"Early radio transmitters were built with everything, from old pop bottles
to porcelain cleats salvaged from somewhere". [23]

The use of available household materials and the presentation and sharing of
research is evident in the many sets of instructions, diagrams, test reports
and methods of 2.4Ghz. antenna construction that are available both on the
Internet, and locally, at the frequent meetings of the free network groups.

Consume and youarehere[24] both organise workshops in local self-subsidised
spaces (such as the Boxing Club[25] in Limehouse, or Deckspace[26] in
Greenwich) at which participants share tools, advice and research, and
discuss the growth of the networks. Meetings are often organised at
prospective locations for nodes, the technical building of the node (antenna
construction, computer software and hardware installation) are undertaken
then and there by volunteers.

The computers used are usually salvaged from the skips of businesses that
are caught in the upgrade cycle necessitated by proprietary software,[27]
and less resource-intensive Free Software is then installed and configured
to make them into routers or servers on the Free Network.[28]

The fact that Free Software is used in the construction of Free Networks is
one obvious link between the movements, but they overlap in many ways.

Consume the net:

- Free Transit

Possibly the most important aspect of the free network is the construction
of common ownership. The infrastructure of each piece of equipment in the
network is the property of each participant, (usually) based in their homes
or work places, so clearly, no 'collective' ownership of the physical
components of the network infrastructure is possible. The concept of
distributed ownership works similarly to the idea of a General Public
License. In Vortex's[29] view, the commons of the free network is:

"the carriage of traffic for the greater good..a common wealth of
information transfer, and [the Free Network] can be nothing less and at
least to begin with, maybe nothing more."[30]

Vortex sees the flow of information in a network as the 'commons' of the
Free Network. That flow is often referred to simply as "transit". Some
explanation of the concept of "transit" should be useful here.

Transit can be defined as one of the five types of information traffic that
flows across networks. The five types of network traffic are:

1. Internal: packets[31] that flow around, but never leave your network.
2. External: packets that flow outside, but never come into your network.
3. Incoming: packets originating outside, but addressed to a computer
4. Outgoing: packets originating inside, addressed to a computer outside.
5. Transit: packets originating outside, addressed to a computer outside,
but that flow across machines on your network.[32]

Free transit, the agreement to pass on packets of information without
blocking or altering them is the premise of a Free Network.

Vortex goes on to say that nothing in the network is "commonly owned", the
Free Network is "just an explicit set of resources and
responsibilities".[33] In his understanding the primary resource is the
transit of data traffic, and the responsibility is to allow that data
traffic to pass freely across your section of the network.

- The 3 A's.

"That's part of education in [the Free Networks] project, educating people
to be aware of the responsibilities of ownership of their network resources,
both the parts they wish to share, as well as the parts they wish to keep to

The idea of Free Transit and the use of network resources are often
conflated, because one delivers the other; for example, the stream of mp3
audio is carried by Free Transit, but is separate from it, and is not part
of the 'commons' of the network.

In Vortex's words, the 3 A's of IT security control are:

1. Authentication: satisfactorily determining who or what you are dealing
2. Authorisation: defining what that entity can do.
3. Access Control: regulating access to resources.

These are the technical methods by which resources in non-free networks are
uniformly restricted. In the Free Network, Vortex argues that they are still
important, to control access to the resources inside the network of each
participant, and that it is vital that that participant understands and
takes responsibility for that level of control.

For example, he has some servers in his basement containing databases,
stored data, and software in development, access to which he wants to be
able to regulate very tightly.

There is also a responsibility (Vortex argues) to regulate the transit of
traffic across your network. For example, if transit traffic is taking up mo
st of your transit resources, it has to be controlled. He argues that as far
as possible, transit should be unimpeded, but in certain circumstances it is
necessary to use one or more of the 3 A's to regulate it, and to be
transparent and open about how you are regulating that access.

Pico Peering

Peering is the agreement to interconnect and exchange routing information.
On the Internet, peering is organised hierarchically. There are nine or ten
huge corporations (for example MAE East in the US, or Linx in London) that
are interconnected through the 'backbone' of the Internet, a series of
extremely high-capacity fibre optic cables. By having 'peering agreements',
these corporations agree to mutually route information between the
'borders'[36] of their networks without charge, based on equality of the
exchange. They then sell on parts of their connectivity to smaller
corporations (who are connected to the backbone through them), who then
re-divide and sell it on again etc. These smaller companies (usually
Internet Service Providers or extremely large institutions) may have peering
agreements of their own, or may sell on their connectivity to lesser
organisations.[37] A large part of the money you spend on your internet
connection, and ultimately, control over what information you can access
through it, is passed up this chain of peers to one of the huge corporations
at the top.

A useful way of looking at Free Transit in Free Networks is the concept of
Pico[38] Peering. This is the agreement between (in Internet hierarchy
terms) the lowest level of peers - the users themselves. Each peer agrees to
transit the traffic of other peers across their network without charge (but
subject to local conditions and circumstances). The fact that there is no
"backbone" of a meshed Free Network means that on a basic level of
transit[39] no peer would have any more bargaining power than any other. The
Pico Peering Agreement, a document to facilitate this kind of bargain, is
being developed at http://www.picopeer.net and is preparing a first draft
for public consultation some time in December 2002..

This horizontal structure of distributed ownership and responsibility would
make it very difficult (if not impossible) for one peer, or an outside
interest to appropriate the Free Network.

Once this network of Pico Peers is established, there is even the potential
to negotiate for cheaper or less legally restrictive provision[40] with
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who are locked into expensive upstream
peering agreements.

As Figure 1 (see below) shows, if Free Network members can connect to each
other, but are wired into separate ISPs, it may be cheaper and faster for
those ISPs to transit their traffic directly across the Free Network rather
than having to go to an Upstream Service Provider (one of the larger
companies) who charge them for that privilege, and then back down to their
neighbouring network.

According to Julian Priest, co-fonder of 'Consume', this eating away at the
borders of commercial networks is the meaning of the name Consume: consuming
the edges of the net.

This potential, to subvert the value structures of the Internet bandwidth
hierarchy, is a powerful weapon for advocates of Free Networks, and one they
will probably need to survive commercial pressures.

Threats to Free Networks: legislation and deregulation.

"[The US] public and political sentiment of the 1920s strongly opposed the
privatisation of the radio spectrum for a variety of reasons. There was a
desire to guarantee equal access for all citizens. Ironically,
commercialisation of the radio spectrum occurred more drastically and
thoroughly than with any other public resource".[41]

Marvin Bensman's analysis of the history of radio regulation in the US shows
how legislators were hesitant to legislate ownership rights in the 'special
case' of the radio spectrum. He argues that this initial idealism, and the
thriving, self-regulated amateur radio broadcast infrastructure was quickly
undermined by commercial interests and the Hoover administration,[42] and
that eventually the lack of clearly defined legislation allowed it to be
almost entirely removed from public ownership. This 'death by deregulation'
is a familiar and sad story of free radio networks throughout the last

"[legalising the commercial use of 2.4Ghz] will give businesses the
opportunity to exploit new ideas and technology."[43] - Stephen Timms,
e-Commerce Minister. June 2002.

On the 10th June, 2002, Stephen Timms, the 'e-Commerce Minister' announced
the opening up of the 2.4Ghz frequency band for commercial use in the UK.
Given that in this case, there is not even 'public and political' sentiment
opposed to the commercial deregulation of 2.4Ghz, it seems that US amateur
radio history could well be about to repeat itself in the legislative and
commercial fate of wireless Free Networks. Starbucks opened their first
metered wireless access points later that summer, and the roll-out of
commercial 2.4Ghz services in airports, hotels and public 'hot-spots' is
quickly following.

In this context, the only hope for Free Wireless Networks will be the shrewd
use of alternative economic models, such as non-profit systems and voluntary
labour to undercut the market for such services. The use of strategies such
as Pico Peering to de-value and subvert the pricing structure of Internet
bandwidth will also be vital to Free Networkers when negotiating favourable
local network arrangements and bidding for survival in the increasingly
harsh, competitive climate.

Communication Privacy

Privacy is often characterised as freedom 'from' something; from the
curiosity of others, from government, from surveillance, from law. This
characterisation, exemplified by the fetishised representation of the
surveillance camera and covert footage in 'reality TV' seems to limit the
condition of privacy to a passive, solitary state of self-possession.

In Rites of Privacy and the Privacy Trade'[45] , Elizabeth Neill sets out
two conceptions of privacy; the reductionist view that privacy can be seen
in terms of a social construction based on ownership, and the more holistic
view of privacy, as a basic human need and inalienable right. She then
attempts to synthesise these two concepts of privacy by arguing that they
are constantly reconstructed as cultural norms by their performance through
social rituals such as shitting, sex and sleeping.

This more anthropological conception of privacy as the basis for
relationships, both intimate, but also as a premise for social
interaction[44] would be a useful starting point for an examination of
communications networks, in which each individual's ownership and control of
their information, and the means of its distribution, premises their
privacy.  In laying out some tactics being used to promote this practice of
information privacy, hopefully some of the groundwork for that investigation
has been done here.

To some extent, this text follows Neill's synthesis by seeing communication,
both interpersonal and social, as the ritual through which the privacy, and
autonomy of each actor is constructed. The enclosure of this ritual, by the
expropriation of intellectual property and the means of communication is the
cause of widespread anxiety about the lack of privacy, and the subject of
the CAE's critique in Tactical Media.

Free Software and Free Networks have both been useful defence strategies for
re-appropriating the rituals of communication. However, in light of recent
threats, it is clear that they may need to develop strategies of offence,
and compete more fiercely with their proprietary and commercial counterparts
if they are going to survive.

To a large extent, this will depend on the success of the Pico Peering
Agreement's public consultation, and whether similar peer network agreements
can become useful to Free Network movement in the same way that 'copyleft'
devices such as the GPL have provided a legal framework for the continued
growth and sustainability of the Free Software movement.

Saul Albert  4/12/2002
copyright 2002 under the GNU free documentation lisence -

thanks and intellectual property rights distributed to:
Adam Burns (Vortex), Armin Medosch, Lottie Child, Julian Priest, Consume,
Nick Fry, Simon Worthington, the BerLon crew, the PicoPeer discussion group,
Free2Air, youarehere, and the East-end.net list.


Figure 1 - ASCII network diagram.
see http://uua.twenteenthcentury.com/index.php?ASCIInetworkDiagram if it
doesn't display correctly.

      Please view in a fixed-width font such as Courier.

 |                 fig 1                    |                  fig 2
 |                                          |
 |        Commercial Network Model          |            Free Network Model
 |                                          |
 |.......................................   |
.......................................   |
 |+--------------+..   ..+--------------+  u| +--------------+..
..+--------------+  u|
 ||commercial    |.. n ..|commercial    |  s| |commercial    |.. n
..|commercial    |  s|
 ||network 1     |.. e ..|network 2     |  e| |network 1     |.. e
..|network 2     |  e|
 ||              |.. t ..|              |  r| |              |.. t ..|
|  r|
 ||       +-:---->.. w ..|              |  s| |       +-+    |.. w ..|
|  s|
 ||       +-+    |.. o ..|              |   | |       +-+    |.. o ..|
|   |
 ||              |.. r ..|     --       |  /| |      /       |.. r
    --       |  /|
 ||              |.. k ..<----:  :--------  | |     /        |.. k ..|    |
|--------  |
 ||              |..   ..|     --       /  s| |    /         |..
|     --\      /  s|
 ||  --          |.. b ..|             /|  e| |  --          |.. b ..|     |
\    /|  e|
 || |  :--------->.. o ..|         +--: |  r| | |  |         |.. o ..|     |
+--+ |  r|
 ||  --    +-+   |.. r ..|         +--+ |  v| |  --  \ +-+   |.. r ..|     |
+--+ |  v|
 ||        | :--->.. d ..|  +--+        |  i| |       \| |   |.. d ..|  +--+
|  i|
 ||        +-+   |.. e ..|  +--+        |  c| |        +-+   |.. e ..|  +--+
|  c|
 ||              |.. r ..|              |  e| |          /   |.. r ..|     \
|  e|
 ||              |..   ..|          --  |  s| |         /    |.------+-
\   --  |  s|
 ||              |.......<---------:  | |   | |        /
     -\------|  | |   |
 ||     --       |.......|          --  |   | |     --/   /           /
    --  |   |
 ||    |  :------>.......|              |   | |    |  :--/----------- {AT}      \
|   |
 ||     --       |.......|              |   | |     --  |
|   |
 ||              |.......|              |   | |         |    Free Network
|       |   |
 ||              |.......|              |   | |         |
|       |   |
 ||              |.......|              |   | |         |
|       |   |
 |+--------------+ ......+--------------+   |
            --------+   |
 |.......................................   | ...........\
/.........   |
 |                                          |             \              /
 |                                          |               \           /
 |                                          |                ----------
 |Transit between users / services on each  |    Transit between peers makes
commercial |
 |network is by agreement between commercial|    network borders & transit
policies     |
 |networks.                                 |    irrelevant
 |                                          |
 |                                          |
 |                                          |
 |                                          |
 |                                          |



[1] John Locke, 'Second Treatise of Government', quoted in Matthew H.
Kramer, John Locke and the Origins of Private Property, (Cambridge U.P.,
1997), pp. 130.
[2] Warren and Brandeis, The Right to Privacy December 15th,
http://www.lawrence.edu/fac/boardmaw/Privacy_brand_warr2.html 13/11/02.
[3] Warren and Brandeis, The Right to Privacy.
[4] Critical Art Ensemble, Tactical Media, 1997 -
http://www.molodiez.org/net/tactical_CAE.html, 11/11/2002.
[5] References hereafter to CAE, in my text.
[6] "Look at all files that intersect my organic subjectivity: Credit files,
travel files, education files, medical files, employment files,
communication files, political files, tax files, investment files,
consumption files, files onto infinity." - CAE, Tactical Media, 1997.
[7] David Bollier, Silent Theft: the private plunder of our common wealth,
(New York: Routledge, 2002)
[8] See Ghosh, Rishab Aiyer, 'Cooking Pot Markets', First Monday, Vol. 3,
Issue 3, March 1998. http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue3_3/, 5/3/2000
[9] Instead he opts for a gentle rhetoric of 'community investment and
policy reform', and only mentions the alienated subject of enclosure when
romanticising the commons of the 'great American outdoors'.
[10] CAE, Tactical Media¸1997.
[11] The CAE are never specific about anything, they are deliberately
evasive, never use references or any other forms of traditional textual
authentication, specifically to make it difficult to co-opt their text for
more academic purposes (like this one). As a result, their text often sound
like prophetic ranting. In this case, the prophetic tone does seem to have
been justified.
[12] For expansions of these acronyms, and links to information sources
related to them ,see
[13] Kevin Kelly, 'George Gilder: When Bandwidth is Free', Wired, 1.04
(1993), pp. 2.
[14] The most obvious example is the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill
which would have given authority to procure and cross reference private
communications such as email and web logs to unaccountable civil servants
and the Post Office. thankfully, was 'postponed indefinitely' after huge
campaigns and lobbying by the public, and an impressive rallying drive by
[15] CAE, Tactical Media, 1997.
[16] http://www.consume.net 10/11/02
[17] All use of radio spectrum is subject to licensing under the 1949
Wireless Telegraphy Act, unless specifically exempt by regulations.
[18] In early 2000, the UK government nearly bankrupted half of the mobile
telephony operators in the country by auctioning the 1755 to 1850 MHz "3G"
spectrum band for high speed mobile data services for almost £32 billion.
One of the methods attaining this inflated price was the legislative
suppression of commercial use of 2.4Ghz. In an article in Itweek, David Rae
reports that 2.4Ghz networking is predicted to shave 50% off the profits of
3G lisencees. See http://www.itweek.co.uk/News/1132534 16/11/02.
[19] See http://freenetworks.org for links to many of them.
[20] http://www.consume.net
[21] http://www.free2air.net
[22] See the section on Pico Peering below.
[23] 'The Ham', Wireless Age, December 1919, p.37. Quoted in quoted in Jesse
Walker, Rebels on the air : an alternative history of radio in America. (New
York: NYU Press, 2001). pp.16.
[24] Another Free Networks group, but with a different background to Consume
or Free2Air. youarehere is an off-shoot of Mute magazine. Its agenda is
specifically to connect existing social networks of cultural producers in a
wireless Free Network. youarehere is funded by Cityside Regeneration and
C.I.D.A. (the Cultural Industries Development Agency). See
http://youarehere.metamute.com. The approach is clearly very different to
the more anarchic model of Consume, but is a good example of how different
organisational models of Free Network participants can co-exist.
[25] A self subsidised multi-use space run by artists, film makers, and
cultural producers in Limehouse Town Hall, E14. See
[26] The successor to Backspace, an open access project space for
technologists, artists, and cultural workers in Greenwich, run by James
Stevens. See http://grault.net/cgi-bin/grubstreet.pl?Deckspace
[27] Companies such as Microsoft and Apple produce software that is
needlessly resource intensive. People who use their computers as glorified
typewriters are therefore forced to purchase incredibly over-engineered
machines just to run word processing, email and web browsing software. Large
firms upgrade their computers once every two to three years, and computers
that were worth thousands of pounds in 1998 are being left in skips.
[28] The favored operating systems of Free Networkers are FreeBSD
(http://www.freebsd.org) (a FS variant of the proprietary Berkley Software
Distribution of Unix) and Debian Linux (http://www.debian.org). These are
both self-professed Free Software projects, and are often seen as the least
commercial , and most responsibly licensed operating systems. Debian Linux
for example uses the "Debian Social Contract" in conjunction with a GPL
copyright device to explain the social implications and convictions of the
project contributors. See http://www.debian.org/social_contract.html
[29] Vortex, A.K.A. Adam Burns, of Free2air.net
[30] Vortex {AT} Free2Air.net. 2002. Interview by the author, Hackney Road,
11/11/2002. See Appendix 4
[31] A packet of data is the basic unit of traffic in a network. It contains
a sender IP (Internet Protocol) address, a recipient IP address and some
[32] Summarized from the 'Pico Peering Agreement'. See
http://www.picopeer.net/wiki/index.php/PicoPeeringAgreement 17/11/02
[33] Vortex {AT} Free2Air.net, interview by ?SaulAlbert, 2002.
[34] Ibid.
[35] For example, iris scanning, fingerprinting and pin numbers.
[36] It is interesting to see how the language of land rights enters into
this informational context, the technical protocol for this exchange is
called the "Border Gateway Protocol".
[37] For more on peering, and a proposal for wireless peering see Adam Curry
on WiFi peering: http://stories.curry.com/stories/storyReader$12 or the Pico
Peering Agreement at http://www.picopeer.net
[38] In this context Pico is used to mean "tiny".
[39] Services, shared Internet connectivity or any other asset might be used
to barter on a local level
[40] The "Terms and Conditions" of ISPs are shockingly restrictive. Often
they reserve the right to censor any content you publish via their network,
and restrict the ability to share (or re-sell) your connection to other
users. This has been a significant legal problem for people who want to
share the cost of their broadband Internet connection with other users of
their Free Network, they have had to take the risk of prosecution (or more
likely disconnection) or simply pay.
[41] Marvin R Bensman, The Beginning of Broadcast Regulation in the
Twentieth Century, (London: ?McFarland &co, Inc., 2000), pp. 226-227.
[42] The loss of the case of United States v. Zenith Radio Corp. (1925), who
were suing the US government because they would not award any more broadcast
licenses, ruled that the government no longer had any authority to regulate
the radio spectrum. This precipitated a brief period of total deregulation
in 1926 which, due to over-exploitation, in turn led to the 1927 and 1934
Radio Act, opening up radio to regulated commercial, but very little public
[42.5] See
[43] Steve Timms quoted in an archived news report at the Government News
Network website: http://www.nds.coi.gov.uk. 17/11/02
[44] See James Rachels, "Why Privacy is Important," in R. Dejoie et. al.,
eds. Ethical Issues in Information Science. ( Boston, MA: Boyd and Fraser,
1991), pp. 110-117.
[45] Elizabeth Neill, Rites of Privacy, (Montreal & Kingston and London:
McGill-Queen's University Press, 2001).


1. J.S. Mill, On Liberty (1859), Mary Warnock ed., Utilitarianism, The
Fontana Library, Philosophy, 1968,
2. J. ?DeCew, In Pursuit of Privacy: Law, Ethics, and the Rise of
Technology, (Ithaca: Cornell University Press), 1997.
3. John Locke, 'Second Treatise of Government', quoted in Matthew H. Kramer,
John Locke and the Origins of Private Property, (Cambridge: Cambridge U.P.,
4. James Rachels, "Why Privacy is Important," in R. Dejoie et. al., eds.
Ethical Issues in Information Science. ( Boston, MA: Boyd and Fraser, 1991).
5. Elizabeth Neill, Rites of Privacy, (Montreal & Kingston and London:
McGill-Queen's University Press, 2001).
6. David Bollier, Silent Theft: the private plunder of our common wealth,
(New York: Routledge, 2002).
7. Jesse Walker, Rebels on the air : an alternative history of radio in
America. (New York: NYU Press, 2001).
8. Marvin R Bensman, The Beginning of Broadcast Regulation in the Twentieth
Century, (London: ?McFarland &co, Inc., 2000). On-line texts and web sites.
9. Warren and Brandeis, The Right to Privacy December 15th,
http://www.lawrence.edu/fac/boardmaw/Privacy_brand_warr2.html 13/11/02.
10. Critical Art Ensemble, Tactical Media, 1997 -
http://www.molodiez.org/net/tactical_CAE.html, 11/11/2002.
11. The OGC website: http://www.ogc.gov.uk/index.asp?id=2190 12/11/02
12. The GNU Project website: http://www.gnu.org, 15/11/02
13. The Free Software Foundation's reason for its name:
14. Florian Cramer's homepage:
15. The STAND website: http://www.stand.org.uk.
16. IT Week: http://www.itweek.co.uk/News/1132534 16/11/02.
17. The Free Networks website: http://freenetworks.org
18. The Consume website: http://www.consume.net
19. http://www.free2air.net
20. The Boxing Club website http://spacehijackers.co.uk/boxingclub/
21. A description of Deckspace at Grubstreet:
22. The ?FreeBsd homepage: http://www.freebsd.org
23. The Debian homepage: http://www.debian.org
24. The Pico Peering Agreement :
http://www.picopeer.net/wiki/index.php/PicoPeeringAgreement 17/11/02
25. James Curry on wireless peering:
26. The Pico Peering website: http://www.picopeer.net
27. The UK government news distribution service website:
http://www.nds.coi.gov.uk. 17/11/02
28. Barbrook, Richard 'The High Tech Gift Economy', in First Monday, 3.12,
1998, http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue3_12/barbrook/
29. The University of Unix and Art website: http://uua.twenteenthcentury.com

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